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How one compassionate choice led to hundreds of fulfilled dreams

ECE’s first scholar, Melissa Patino Gonzalez, and Founder Dr. Mike Spalding share the moving circumstances that enabled hundreds of undocumented students in Tennessee to go to college. Story by Brad Schmitt of The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, March 10, 2022.

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An Equal Chance for All

In Tennessee, there are an estimated 8,000 DACA and Undocumented students who face impossible financial barriers toward higher education as they are not eligible for:

  • In- state tuition at community colleges and public institutions
  • State or Federal Funding
  • Students loans

ECE scholars’ average age of arrival in the United States is 5 years old and they have thrived in our Tennessee school systems. At ECE we believe the logical and ethical solution is to provide equal opportunities for all Tennesseans.

a group of people posing for a picture
a group of people posing for a photo

Equal Chance for Education Scholars

  • Have a defined career goal
  • Understand the requirements needed to graduate
  • Understand any secondary degrees, certifications, or skills needed for the chosen career
View Scholarships

ECE To Date

Distributing 2.1 million dollars in scholarships annually, Equal Chance for Education scholars reported an average 3.27 GPA and  maintain a 96% retention rate.

DREAMers in Tennessee
ECE Students Currently Enrolled
Each ECE Scholarship

Get Involved

Providing equitable access would not be possible without the generosity of our partner colleges. Currently, ECE enrolls students at the following universities:

Apply for a Scholarship

If you are a student in Tennessee, you may qualify for an ECE Scholarship up to $25,000 if you have the following:​

minimum B Average (3.0 GPA)


other legal status and
not FAFSA eligible

Definite Financial Need

Defined Career Goal

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